As a small business owner, you have to wear many hats. In addition to your day-to-day work other areas such as accounts, recruitment and sales can take up a lot of your time. It’s also unlikely that you have access to a marketing team to help spread the word about your company.

That’s where social media can help. There are a range of websites which small business owners can utilise to promote their businesses, which are straightforward enough to manage yourself. Even better than that, they’re free to use! In the UK alone there are 45 million social media users, which equates to 67% of the population. Here we consider some of the most popular sites.

Facebook

Of all social channels, Facebook has the most users in the UK. Originally created for Harvard University students, Facebook is now used by 78% of the UK’s internet users1. Facebook allows for images, videos, Facebook Live, as well as written posts which mean you can share a wide range of content. It’s a good idea to post regularly on Facebook, at least once a day, and posts tend to work best in the afternoon and early evening, when many users are online.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual social media platform with a focus on images and short videos. It provides a great tool to showcase your work with images and videos on your timeline. You can also post images and videos to your stories, where it is available to be viewed for 24 hours only. When posting on Instagram, quality trumps quantity, so you don’t need to post every day if you can’t. Instagram also allows customers to tag you in their own photos, helping to get your name out to more people. The comments section and direct message (DM) facility also allows customers to contact you directly.

Twitter

Twitter is a more conversational social media channel, commonly used as a source of news. Each tweet is limited to 280 characters in order to avoid lengthy updates. By tweeting and re-tweeting posts, you can share updates, special offers and news in short, succinct posts. Customers and potential customers can easily get in touch with you too with queries, comments or reviews.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is considered to be the social media platform for professionals. It’s all about making connections and provides a great opportunity to establish partnerships and get your brand out there. LinkedIn is a great platform to share insights and industry news and also to view these from your connections. If you have a team of employees, encourage them to share your posts with their connections and network, your team are your biggest brand ambassadors.

If you do have a marketing budget, many social media channels also offer paid advertising opportunities, which allow you to target particular demographics with your posts. Whichever channels you decide to use, make sure that you include a good description of your business and the services you provide, as well as contact details and a photo. Your username should be as close to your business name as possible as this will make it easier for people to find you.